Friday, May 24, 2013

Frugal Friday: Keeping Summer on a Budget

Summer's here and I can't believe it. Today is my oldest son's last day of school. Last year at this time I was kind of freaking out. I needed an idea for summer so that I didn't go crazy. I came up with this printable summer plan that we used all summer long and I'm happy to report that it worked so well that I am using it again.

One of our favorite things about the summer plan is that there is something to look forward to each day of the week. Those incentives help our kids want to do their chores and assignments early in the day (ideally without complaining...but realistically of course that doesn't always happen) so that they can participate in the activities.

Another thing I love about the plan is that it provides just enough structure for our kids to feel like they are on a schedule, along with just enough "non-structure" to allow them lots of free time to just be kids. I believe in slowing down during the summer, but I don't believe in complete laziness. Kid's want to accomplish and succeed and we can allow them that by giving them responsibilities and expectations (as well as rewards and incentives) each day.

The plan also helps us to stay on budget because everyone knew what to expect about which activities will cost money and which will be free. This is important during the summer because it's so easy to blow the budget when there is no plan.

As I mentioned, in this plan there are themed activities for each of the days of the week. Here's how the activities break up for each day of the week:

  • Make Something Monday - We make a craft, project, snack or treat.
  • Library Trip Tuesday  - We go to the library, check out books and sometimes go to story time.
  • Wet, Wet, Wednesday - We run through the sprinklers, wash the cars or bikes, make bubbles or do another wet activity.
  • Thinking Thursday - We do an activity that helps us learn - a science project, learn some words from another language, have a read-a-thon or another learning activity.
  • Field Trip Friday - We go on a field trip somewhere - to the park, to the zoo, to the swimming pool or splash pad. Some cost money, some are free. We plan them ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect.

During the summer I like to encourage the kids to do extra chores for money. We list those on the upper left corner of the plan along with how much they can earn. Summer is a great time to help your kids learn to work and enjoy working by providing them with chores where they can earn money. What works best for us is to make these chores optional, but expect the kids to fund the cost of some of the activities themselves. For example, last year we went to our city carnival with the kids on a day when all the rides were cheaper. During the week I gave the kids lots of chores where they could earn money and told them that the money that they earned that week could be spent at the carnival. They paid for all the rides and snacks that they wanted and there was no complaining because when their money ran out, we went home. It was a great way to teach responsibility as well as help them to discover the rewards that hard work brings.

Throughout the summer I'll be sharing examples of activities that we do as part of this plan in case you need ideas. Make sure you follow my facebook page because that's where I'll post most of these.

Happy Summer! Ready or not, here it comes. :)

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